Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunday is Street Art Day, or Sit Around and Do Nothing Day

Not a hell of a lot of street art happened yesterday.

For one more week, I successfully beat back the urge to buy some fresh cans of spray paint, which ruled out the creation of a sizable piece. At 15 reis a can, that's about 9 bucks each and more than I can currently afford until I resolve some of my credit card debt.

However, I have a large number of imported Sharpie fine point markers with which to illustrate the city, so I opted to do that instead. Unfortunately, my timing was bad and it was already drizzling when I left the house. I did one quick drawing, and was working on a second when it started to rain for real. Really rain for real. I had to run for home, and I arrived dripping wet.

So much for the Sharpies. I had been summoned to Paripe for one more Sunday afternoon so I grabbed a couple of my almost spent Molotow cans and got in the car. En route, I stopped and painted a couple bichinhos on some bus stops. My bichinhos ('bicho' is a great Portuguese word that roughly means 'critter,' and 'bichinho' is the diminutive- you learned something) were originally intended to be fast and easy, my version of a tag (even though I have a tag too). They require very little paint, so I probably have enough paint for twenty or more of them. The only problem is, I'm getting kind of bored of them. It was never my intention to keep painting the same thing over and over, and although I can paint them in a variety of poses it's still the same basic formula.

Truth is, I'm a little frustrated with all of my graffiti. I suppose I'm doing fine, for a beginner, but I don't want to be a beginner- I want to be a professional. To become a professional is going to require a major commitment of time and money, neither of which I have in abundance at the moment. All spray paint is expensive here, so I can't buy a bunch of cheap 'practice' paint and train with it. And when I say Sunday is street art day, or graffiti day, I mean it- I don't have time during the week to make art work.

So after this short spate of street artistry, I ended up in Paripe again, earlier in the day than I like to. I like to show up, hang out for an hour or two at the most, and then split. The problem is that I get extremely bored in Paripe. The music is too loud and I don't enjoy it. The conversation is half-incomprehensible (even after six years living here) and half of the remaining half is not engaging. I had the infinite pleasure of having not one but two of Evani's drunk brothers come and mutter in my ear about how much they hate each other and who knows what else that I didn't understand. I get real tired of saying "What?" so I generally just nod and let it go if it's not a direct question.

My efforts at participating in the conversation are generally futile as well. As I am not generally interested in what they want to talk about, they aren't terribly interested in what I have to say either, and I find many of my contributions are ignored. Gossip is generally about people I don't know, or need clarification about, and if I really want to know who's being talked about I generally have to ask two or three times. If I have to say something three times I'm annoyed, so I prefer to keep quiet.

What this means is that I spend most of my time sitting there doing nothing except drinking beer. I like to drink beer, but not to the exclusion of other things, and to be honest I'd generally prefer to work than hang out in Paripe- more mentally stimulating. So I often do. It's not that I don't like the people individually, my in-laws- I like them quite a bit- almost all of them. And there are a lot of them.

Evani's oldest brother is pretty much the only one I can have an interesting conversation with. He's the only one that enjoys knowledge for its own sake and we can discuss things that don't blip on anyone else's radar. Last week we got talking about the new seed bank in Norway. This week, he was going off on some tangent about God that I wasn't following too well.

What's so sad about all this is that everyone else in the family loves going to Paripe. Evani has lots of people to talk to, which she misses being shut up in our house all day. Ruan has kids to play with, which he misses for the same reason. Lucas probably loves it more than anyone, also for the same reason. He doesn't stop running from one little house to another, playing with this cousin, that cousin, getting attention from this aunt, that uncle. Me- I could live shut up in a house by myself and not leave for days. And love it. I get weird when I do that and I won't say it's exactly healthy but hey it's in my blood. Born of days of freezing rain and sunset at 4:30. Of course, now that I have my office, I get to do that almost every day- shut myself up in a little room and get antisocial. Too bad I have to work while I'm there.

The thing is that I've never really fit conveniently in any group- not Capoeiristas, not computer programmers, certainly not graffiti artists. Probably the group I fit into most comfortably was stoners, but that's almost ten years in my past and I ain't looking back. I know that that which makes me different is also what makes me interesting so I'm not complaining... too much. Just that it gets lonely sometimes.

It's not that I fit in much better with Brazilians with more means or better education, although we often do have more to talk about. When I go out for a beer after capoeira with my friends from Nzinga, I often clam up there as well- they speak a whole different brand of Portuguese and I often understand them less than Evani's family. Plus their whole mode of interaction completely baffles me- I just don't get it. Brazilians have an ease and familiarity with one another that leaves me feeling totally on the outside. And when I see people of the upper classes- usually in shopping malls- I feel like I'm watching aliens. No point of reference whatsoever.

It occurs to me that maybe because I wasn't intensely a part of a group or a scene that this led to me ending up here. Of course, it's much more likely that it is because I was single and had been for years, but humor me here. If I'd had some great job or been part of some fantastic breakdance crew (humor me I said) maybe I never would have left the States. But I didn't, and I was open to possibilities, and I've generally followed the path that opens up in front of me, so here I am.

I certainly didn't want a boring life.

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